May 16, 2006

Wyden offers resolution calling for comprehensiveschedule to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles

Resolution also calls for annual reports to Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. Following announcements by the Department of Defense that the U.S. would not meet its 2007 treaty deadline for the destruction of its chemical weapons or the five-year extension provided under the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has cosponsored a resolution urging the Secretary of Defense to prepare a comprehensive schedule for safely destroying the United States chemical weapons stockpiles; the resolution also calls for annual reports to Congress on the progress of that effort.We are sending a clear message that the United States Congress wants the safe destruction of these chemical weapons to be a priority for the Department of Defense, Wyden said. It is not acceptable for the Defense Department to continually roll back the deadline for destroying these weapons. The people living in communities around the Umatilla Depot deserve better.The bipartisan sense of the Senate resolution was introduced today by U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) and cosponsored by Wyden and U.S. Senators Wayne Allard (R-Colorado), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).Last May, Wyden also joined with Allard and Salazar in passing legislation to prevent the transportation of chemical weapons materials across state borders and into Oregon. That law prohibits the Department of Defense from funding any study on the feasibility of transporting the chemical munitions at the Pueblo, Colorado Chemical Depot to out-of-state sites to be destroyed; one possible incinerator site for transported chemical weapons materials would have been the Umatilla Chemical Depot.Wyden has long been an advocate of safety at the Umatilla Chemical Depot and in the surrounding communities. In 1999, he released a study from the Government Accountability Office that found that an emergency preparedness program at the facility lacked sufficient management; Wyden then worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army representatives to ensure the maximum protection for citizens living and working near the facility. And in 2003, he worked with U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) and U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon) to secure $4.1 million for a variety of safety projects in and around the Umatilla Depot.